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Friday, January 22, 1999 Published at 23:37 GMT


Impeachment - some trial questions

Questions and answers in the Senate

Questions from senators can be posed to the House of Representatives prosecutors or the president's counsel, and answering time is limited. Here were some typical exchanges in the first session:

Question from Senator Chafee (Republican) to the House Managers:

"The White House defence team makes a lot out of Monica Lewinsky's statement that she delivered the presents to Bettie Currie around 1400 or 1430 and then a lot out of the fact that a call came from Bettie Currie at 1432.

"Isn't it reasonable to assume that Ms Lewinsky meant that she delivered the presents to Mrs Currie in the afternoon? If the president was unconcerned about the presents as he said in his Grand Jury testimony, why didn't he simply tell Ms Lewinsky not to worry about it?"

Answered by

    1. Prosecutor Asa Hutchinson

Asa Hutchinson broadly reviewed the gift issue, and went through the details of the timing on that day in the testimony of both Bettie Currie and Monica Lewinsky.

He said that calling witnesses would answer some of the unanswered conflicts and discrepancies generated by the testimony of President Clinton, which was subsequent to that of those witnesses. Asa Hutchinson said he did not believe that the discrepancies destroyed the credibility of the evidence.

"All of them preceded the testimony of William Jefferson Clinton ... The independent counsel didn't call anyone back to the Grand Jury to requestion them after the information received from William Jefferson Clinton so there's a lot of unanswered questions perhaps generated by his testimony," he said.

    2. White House Counsel Charles Ruff

Charles Ruff discussed the gifts given to Monica Lewinsky, and whether they had had any relevance.

"There is not one single iota of evidence to support that wishful thinking. Is it really likely ... that by giving Ms Lewinsky [these gifts] that some great message was being sent to Ms Lewinsky to ... stay inside the conspiracy? I don't think so," Mr Ruff said.

Question from Senator Feingold (Democrat) to the House Managers:

"What is the burden of proof in the case - the criminal one, beyond reasonable doubt, or on the balance of probabilities as in civil cases?"

Answered by

  • Prosecutor Asa Hutchinson

The prosecutor said the constitution does not discuss the standard of proof for impeachment trials, but simply says the Senate has the power to try all impeachments. Because the constitution is silent on the matter, he said it was appropriate to look past the practice of the Senate for the answer.

"The historically appropriate answer would be to say that the matter was one for each individual senator guided by their conscience," he said.

He said that on the basis of judicial history, the criminal standard was inappropriate.



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